In our Sept. 17 Best Of Baltimore Issue we named Shane's Shoes, in Southwest Baltimore, this year's

. A good bit of that endorsement was based on the broad line of

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the store carries, in addition to its Timberlands, Converse, and other men's shoes and work boots.

But a recent visit to a licensed Red Wing shoe store revealed that one of the things we love about Red Wing--a proud tradition of Made in America--is not something that can be taken for granted. A follow-up call to the company's corporate headquarters in Red Wing, Minn., confirms that for the last few years, since the company started developing a casual men's shoe line, it has turned to off-shore manufacturers, namely, in China. "We do that because not everyone is willing to pay $200 for casual shoes," says a customer-relations representative of the company, who asked that his name not be used. "But we still manufacture our main-line work shoes and some of our retro-styled casual shoes here in the U.S. In addition to our main plant in Minnesota, we have plants in Kentucky and Missouri."

That won't change any time soon, the representative said. Nevertheless, let the buyer beware: If you're shopping for Red Wing shoes other than their trademark work boots and steel-toe work shoes, better ask about where they were made. You might not recognize the name of the town.

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